The Helix Nebula

The Helix Nebula (aka NGC 7293) is a large planetary nebula located in the constellation Aquarius. It’s about 700 light-years away. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God.” Tolkien fans have occasionally called it the “Eye of Sauron”

This animation of a 3-D model was created from Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based data of the Helix Nebula.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

The Orion Nebula in False Color

This false color image of the Orion Nebula was generated using visible light and infrared data from two of the instruments onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a segment of the sky about 0.002° wide. That works out to around 3.4 light-years at the nebula which is 1,500 light-years away.

Image Credit: Nasa / ESA / STScI

The Fireworks Galaxy

NGC 6946 is known as the Fireworks Galaxy, In the past century, nine supernovae have been observed to explode in its spiral arms. This makes it the most prolific known galaxy for this type of event over a period of 100 years. By comparison, the Milky Way galaxy, which has twice as many stars as NGC 6946, averages one supernova event per century.

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, R. Gendler, and the Subaru Telescope (NAOJ)

Mergers and Acquisitions

NGC 2207 is a pair of colliding spiral galaxies. Although individual stars are too far apart to collide, the material between them combines to create high-density pockets of gas. Those, in turn, gravitationally collapse, triggering a firestorm of star birth. This galaxy collision will go on for several millions of years, leaving the galaxies’ shapes completely altered.

This animation combines data from three satellite observatories. Optical: Hubble data shows trails of stars and gas trace out spiral arms, stretched by the tidal pull between the galaxies. Infrared: Spitzer data reveals the glow of warm dust; raw material for the creation of new stars and planets. X-ray: Chandra view reveals areas of active star formation and the birth of super star clusters.

Video Credit: STScI

Cassiopeia A

The expanding debris cloud known as Cassiopeia A is an example of the final phase of the stellar life cycle. This false-color image was out together using X-ray and optical image data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. IT shows the still hot filaments and knots in the remnant which span about 30 light-years. High-energy X-ray emission from specific elements have been color coded red for silicon, yellow for sulphur, green for calcium, and purple fr iron. The outer blast wave is shown in blue. The bright speck near the center is a neutron star, the incredibly dense, massive collapsed remains of the star’s core.

Image Credits: NASA /STScI

Messier 2

Messier 2 or M2 (aka NGC 7089) is a globular cluster in the constellation Aquarius. It’s one of the larger globular clusters known—rich, compact, and significantly elliptical—containing over 150,000 stars. It’s one of the oldest globulars in our galaxy, around 13 billion years old. This Hubble image shows the core of the cluster.

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, and A. Sarajedini (University of Florida)

Weather on Neptune

Neptune has seasons which drive some of the features in its atmosphere, but those seasons are much longer than on Earth, lasting for decades rather than months.

This new Hubble view of Neptune shows a dark storm near the top center of the planet’s disc in the region currently experiencing “summer.” The feature is the fourth and latest  dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993. Two other dark storms were discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 as it flew by the remote planet. Since the Voyager flyby, Hubble has been out only telescope with sufficient sensitivity in blue light to track such elusive features which have appeared and faded quickly.

Image Credit: NASA / STScI

Zooming into M33

This animation flies through the local galactic neighborhood to the Triangulum galaxy (M33), a smaller spiral than our Milky Way galaxy. It first zooms in on one of M33’s bright regions of star birth, the nebula cataloged as NGC 604, a glowing cloud of hot ionized hydrogen gas..

Video Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI

Kepler’s Supernova

In 1604, astronomer Johannes Kepler noticed a new bright object in the sky that was visible to the naked eye for the next year-and-a-half. He was seeing a supernova, the death of a star more than ten times the mass of our Sun that was 20,000 light years from Earth. This false color animation shows the remnant of Kepler’s Supernova, first in infrared, then visible light, then low energy x-rays, then high-energy x-rays, and finally all four together.

Video Credits: NASA / ESA / STScI

The Core of M100

Messier 100 is a spiral galaxy located within the southern part of constellation Coma Berenices about 55 million light-years away. It’s about 107,000 light-years in diameter and one of the brightest and largest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. The image of the galaxy’s core shown above was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.

Image Credits: ESA / NASA / STScI

Pillars of Creation

The Pillars of Creation are a feature in the Eagle Nebula. This pair of images was taken by Hubble in 2014. The first image shows the Pillars in visible light capturing the silhouette of the dark cloud. The second shows the Pillars in the near-infrared light. The dust transparent at IR wavelengths, revealing the stars within and behind the cloud.

Video Credit: STScI

The Helix Nebula

Stars like our Sun end their lives by casting off their outer layers, briefly forming a spectacular “planetary nebula” like the Helix Nebula.  This brief video fades between images taken at different wavelengths which show different aspects of the nebula. Optical: Hot gas ejected from a dying star glows. Near-Infrared: Near-infrared light reveals cooler material. Mid-far-Infrared: Warm dust is identified in mid-infrared light. Infrared-Ultraviolet: The ultraviolet light traces the hot gas being expelled from the dying star.

Video Credit: STScI